Arlington, Texas – Marking the official commencement of summer, the various aquatics centers, splash pads, and pools across North Texas have ceremoniously opened their doors for the Memorial Day weekend.
In Arlington, municipal authorities are going above and beyond to ensure water quality and reassure parents, particularly following a tragic incident where a young child succumbed to a rare infection nearly two years ago.
“I have a child and so for me, it’s a matter of wanting to go out there and let her have fun without worry,” said Venera Flores-Stafford, assistant director of Arlington Parks & Recreation.
The city has committed itself for a second consecutive summer to the implementation of the Bakari Williams Protocol. This was instituted in honor of a 3-year-old boy, Bakari Williams, who tragically lost his life to a rare brain-eating amoeba after a visit to a city splash pad in September 2021.
The city acknowledged that the unfortunate incident was likely the result of insufficient supervision and sporadic water quality testing, leading to a decrease in chlorination levels below the required minimum.
In response to its acknowledged lapses, the city promptly resolved a lawsuit filed by the boy’s family, pledging to improve its practices. They invested in new splash pad equipment, set higher safety and water testing standards, and allocated nearly $650,000 towards enhancements, staff education, and infrastructure upgrades. These measures were all initiated under the new protocol last summer.
“We changed all of our standard operating procedures and are teaching everyone the importance of timely chemical testing,” said Flores-Stafford.
Ahead of the upcoming summer season, city employees are diligently revisiting the new protocol. They are encouraging parents to utilize the QR codes that are prominently displayed at all aquatic facilities throughout Arlington. By simply scanning the code with a smartphone camera, residents can access the city’s water quality dashboard which provides real-time details about the water conditions.
“To me, it’s just about the consistency. It’s about understanding the levels that are maintained and having the peace of mind of going there and seeing it,” said Flores-Stafford. “And knowing that if it is not at that level that it will automatically shut off. They don’t have to worry about that.”
Arlington city authorities are emphasizing to families that water quality inspections take place three times daily, not merely once, to guarantee that large gatherings or equipment breakdowns haven’t led to an unexpected dip in chlorine levels.
“We’re trying to ensure that they don’t have to have that worry and that QR code gives them that peace of mind,” said Flores-Stafford.
In Arlington, chlorine levels are maintained above the state’s minimum requirement. Nonetheless, it’s important to note that not all cities in North Texas have adopted these enhanced safety protocols.
Whether families choose to enjoy a swim, a lakeside outing, or a day at a splash pad, safety remains paramount this summer. It’s vital to be vigilant and prioritize well-being during these outdoor activities.
“Be safe, watch your child. Don’t expect your child that the lifeguards are going to do it. Because all eyes are important,” said Venera Flores-Stafford.
FUN IN THE WATER IN ARLINGTON
Bad Königshofen Family Aquatic Center, Randol Mill Family Aquatic Center, and its three free outdoor splash pads will open from May 27 through May 29, 2023.
Bad Königshofen Family Aquatic Center2800 W. Sublett Road, Arlington, TX 76017Noon to 7 p.m. Saturday, May 271 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, May 28Noon to 6 p.m. Monday, May 29 (Memorial Day)Admission: $8 for under 48 inches, $9 for 48 inches and above, free for those 12 months and under.
Randol Mill Family Aquatic Center1924 W. Randol Mill Park Road, Arlington, TX 76012Noon to 7 p.m. Saturday, May 271 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, May 28Noon to 6 p.m. Monday, May 29 (Memorial Day)Admission: $8 for under 48 inches, $9 for 48 inches and above, free for those 12 months and under.
Veterans and active duty military can present their military ID for half-price admission on Monday, May 29.
The city’s other outdoor pools, Allen Bolden, Woodland West and Howard Moore pools, will open for the season Saturday, June 3. The pools are open this holiday weekend but will stay The family aquatic centers and the outdoor splash pads remain open through Labor Day weekend in early September, while the smaller outdoor pools will close on Aug. 6.
Arlington’s free outdoor splash pads are open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. Afterward, they will remain open only on weekends through the end of September. Click here for more information on splash pads.
Brantley Hinshaw Park 2121 Overbrook Drive, Arlington, TX 76014California Lane Park 2001 California Lane, Arlington, TX 76015Don Misenhimer Park 201 E. Lonesome Dove Trail, Arlington, TX 76002
The Beacon Recreation Center at 1100 Mansfield Webb Road in southeast Arlington also features a splash pad. The Beacon’s splash pad will be open on Memorial Day from noon to 4 p.m. This splash pad features a water maze and spray ground as well as covered shelters available for rent. Splash pad use is available for members or enjoy access with an $8 per day pass.
As a reminder, the Helen Wessler Play Pool permanently closed in 2022. The East Library and Recreation Center Indoor Pool and the Arlington ISD Natatorium are open to Arlington residents year-round.